One day at a book club meeting in prison, Alex looked around at everyone in the room. Five outsiders and seven inmates crowded the tiny room. “I’m not going to make it on the outside,” he said. “I never do.”

I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. Alex was a ‘gentle’ man, a man who helped others, a man who would walk around the track on his hands to avoid a fight.

“You know, guys, I get out and I don’t know what to do. I can never find a good job, so I sleep all day in the halfway house, but they kick me out after three months because I wasn’t bad enough, I guess.”

I wondered if there was a Mrs. Alex and junior Alex people, but I didn’t ask.

“So after awhile, I miss prison and the routine, so I rob some store or other where I don’t hurt people. Since I’m still on parole they send me back here at least for six months or so.”

The inmates in the group tried to help him. They told him which halfway house would really help him and which ones were like outlet stores for the drug trade. One guy suggested a hobby, another said move to different area, a third gave him the name of contractor who hired ex-cons as laborers.

Institutionalization happening right in front of me. This prison system is sick, I thought.instituzionalied

What is the answer?

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Comments
  1. Reta says:

    Yes, the prison system is sick as you said. My son has been incarcerated since 2005 and was just in his last six months of treatment before being released. He did so well they first made him a “coordinator” to his group,,,,or as they put it his “family”. Then they decided to make him “head coordinator” over the other coordinators. There were two men in his “family” group who just couldn’t get it together and were was getting in trouble…my son said they clearly had some mental issues. So they punished the whole group and threatened to send them to what’s called “tighthouse”. Every day you’re in there it adds like a week to your treatment out date which usually meant your actual “Out date”. Well, they suddenly started talking to my son like he was dirt beneath their feet and then told them they were definitely going to tight house and no one but no one else but these to guys out of many were the only ones acting up. My son found out that they sit in straight back chairs all day and stare at a wall can’t look right or look left. I called up and spoke to a F.U.M. and he said Matt had not done anything wrong and there were no negative remarks with his name since he had been there t the treatment center. This makes no sense to me. He thought he was coming home December 10th. Now they are saying because of this tighthouse punishment it would be at the end of Jauary or March. Well….he gets out in April anyway. The have to let him out so he chose to go back to regular prison till april. He was so down about all this until his girlfriend and us his mother and father talked to him and just said, “Well, we will celebrate the new birth of spring together instead of Christmas. I am so disappointed in the guards and the case workers. No remorse whatsoever. I reminded our so that when he was out in April….he was OUT of there…and all those people had to keep coming back. So that’s one way of looking at it. There has to be change. It seems to us that through all of Matt’s life he got in on things that needed changed such as schools, different organizations, etc. and after he left they all made the changes. Its the same way with this ridiculous prison system. So many unfair, non rehabilitation craziness going on and no change in sight.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      I am so glad that you and your husband and a girlfriend are with him, care about him and visit him. When he gets out, it’s a tough time for him. Help him remember that the best way to get back at them is to never go near another prison.
      Sadly it’s all about jobs. They’re keeping him as long as they can it seems — so they will have jobs.
      My best to you, Reta

  2. Joanne says:

    Just heard today on the Sunday Edition (CBC radio program) that the focus has gone away from rehabilitation in Canadian Prisons. The result will be more institutionalization. The solution? I just don’t know anymore. I guess we wait for the tide to turn back and hope it doesn’t take too long.

    It’s difficult to sell the average person on the benefits of programs that treat prisoners as human beings at the best of times but when the government of the day is telling everyone they are not and the media for the most part is following suit, then the task approaches near impossibility.

  3. You know, Ed, what strikes me upside the head right now is the addiction element of “needing” a certain familiarity, etc Addictions really are a tough one because, while one may not be addicted at all to alcohol or substances of any sort themselves, they may grow addicted to habits/places that are really not good for them or their personal growth/development and healthy maturation process. As with any addiction, I suppose the person who feels they must rob a store (albeit kindly if such a thing can be said) must first take a good look at themselves, admit there is an issue and DECIDE to do something different. There is a quote I read years ago that says, If you keep doing what you are already doing, in five years you will get what you already got. Not mine but a good one. Sometimes we have to admit things about ourselves and our needs that are not pleasant because it takes effort to own it, decide to change it and find ways to to it. I dunno. No answers here, really, just off the top of my head tonight 🙂

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